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Aviation units have participated and can anticipate participating in SASO. Aviation's ability to rapidly deploy and operate in austere environments makes it an invaluable asset in SASO. Cargo and utility helicopters can expect to play a vital role in the conduct of SASO.


    a. SASO may require the deployment of the entire aviation brigade or just a portion of it. The aviation brigade may also be modified and a task force formed that encompasses elements from different units within the brigade. Cargo and utility helicopters can expect to be part of these task forces. C2 is a function of the size and make up of the task force. Utility and cargo helicopters may be attached to another headquarters, or the utility and cargo battalion may become the task force headquarters.

    b. Often, SASO focus on CS and CSS missions. Units participating in SASO will often work in concert with US and foreign military and civilian agencies, international organizations, and private organizations. Examples of US Army aviation SASO include transporting personnel, providing humanitarian aid, counterdrug operations, and special event support.


    a. Army aviation doctrine has long been based on the principles of war. SASO also have principles that guide the conduct of operations. The relative application of each principle will vary with each specific operation. Cargo and utility helicopter commanders must understand the implications of these principles as they may be designated as the task force headquarters. The SASO principles are--

  • Objective. Direct every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective.
  • Unity of effort. Seek unity of effort towards every objective.
  • Legitimacy. Sustain the willing acceptance by the people of the right of the government to govern, or of a group or agency to make and carry out decisions.
  • Perseverance. Prepare for the measured, protected application of military capability in support of strategic aims.
  • Restraint. Apply appropriate military capability prudently.
  • Security. Never permit hostile factions to acquire an unexpected advantage.


Army cargo and utility helicopters can expect to conduct many different types of missions in SASO. These missions can be conducted according to the planning considerations listed in the earlier chapters of this manual. The uniqueness of SASO makes it impossible to list all of the missions that cargo and utility aircraft will be tasked to accomplish, but following is a list of missions that can be expected in SASO:

    a. Show of Force. A show of force is a mission carried out to demonstrate US resolve in which US forces deploy to defuse a volatile situation that may be detrimental to US interests. It may take the form of a combined training exercise, rehearsals, forward deployments of military forces, or introduction and buildup of military forces in a region.

    b. Noncombatant Evacuation Operations. NEO relocates threatened civilian noncombatants from locations in a foreign country or host nation. NEO may be conducted in a peaceful environment or it may require force. Utility and cargo helicopters must be prepared to conduct these operations in a high threat environment.

    c. Counterdrug Operations. Military efforts towards counter-drug support complement, rather than replace, the efforts of other US agencies. Utility and cargo aircraft support these missions by conducting reconnaissance and air moving counterdrug personnel.

    d. Support for Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies. US forces may directly support a host nation's counterinsurgency operations. Utility and cargo helicopters may support these operations by conducting air movement operations, C2 operations, and air assaults. Aviation units in this type of operation can expect to be task-organized into a task force consisting of utility, cargo, attack, and cavalry assets.

    e. Peace Enforcement. These operations are taken in support of diplomatic efforts to restore peace between hostile factions. Utility and cargo helicopters can expect to conduct air movement operations in a peace enforcement mission.

    f. Air Assault. Air assault operations may be conducted as part of a SASO mission. Utility and cargo helicopters should be prepared to conduct limited air assaults designed to achieve objectives such as securing key terrain, restoring order, and quelling civil unrest.

    g. Disaster Relief. These operations may occur in CONUS or OCONUS. Army utility and cargo aircraft may be used to assist the civilian population in the event of natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods). Missions during these operations range from air movement of supplies and personnel to fire bucket missions.

    h. Humanitarian Assistance. During peace operations, US forces may assist in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need. Assistance missions include air movement of food, water, and other critical supplies, air movement of personnel, to include medical personnel who will provide essential care to the local population.

    i. Air Movements. Utility and cargo helicopters will conduct air movements during all types of operations. In SASO, units can expect to be tasked to move troops, supplies, equipment, diplomats, allied forces, and media.

    j. Command and Control. In SASO, C2 is a critical function. Since the organization of a JTF may consist of troops from different units, C2 is essential. Utility aircraft can assist in the effective control of SASO by providing the JTF and unit commanders with a platform for conducting C2 operations.

    k. Special Event Support. Utility and cargo helicopters may be called upon to support special events within CONUS and OCONUS. Examples of these types of missions include support for sporting events, Olympic Games, and support for dignitaries, both US and foreign. Support missions consist of providing aircraft for air movements of antiterrorist teams, supporting media, movement of security personnel, and movement of supplies and equipment.


Once given a mission to conduct a SASO, the cargo and utility helicopter commander faces challenges that may be different from those involved in conventional operations. Some of the planning factors that commanders must consider are listed below.

    a. Mission Analysis. Perhaps the greatest obstacle for the commander to overcome in SASO will be defining the mission for his unit. When the unit receives the OPLAN/OPORD, mission analysis begins. Careful mission analysis will allow the commander to determine if he is task organized correctly to meet the intent of the JTF commander. During the mission analysis, the aviation commander must pay particular attention to limitations placed upon him by the ROE or political considerations.

    b. Task Organization. Task organization for a SASO is METT-T driven. The commander must assess the battalion's capabilities versus the mission he is given. He must determine if the task organization is capable of accomplishing the assigned missions. If not, the commander must notify the JTF commander and request to modify the task force so that the JTF commander's mission and intent can be met by the cargo and utility helicopter unit.

    c. Command Relationship. A cargo and utility helicopter unit may often deploy on a SASO without their parent brigade headquarters, or a company may be attached to another battalion headquarters to form an aviation task force. Further, it is possible that the aircraft may work for another service or US nonmilitary agency, such as DEA and FBI. It is critical that the command relationships for the SASO be established early. A clear understanding of the C2 relationship will help reduce confusion throughout the operation. Determining the command relationship early will allow the aviation unit to integrate with the headquarters they are attached to early, resulting in a cohesive organization during the execution of the SASO.

    d. Advanced Party Operations. Advanced party personnel need a comprehensive overview of their unit's mission, commander's intent, capabilities, and requirements prior to deployment. Advanced party personnel must interface with the gaining command or JTF as well as with the local population. Advanced party personnel should be carefully selected by the commander, and the makeup of the party is METT-T driven. For example, deploying to another country with an undeveloped logistics base may require the advanced party to be heavily logistics weighted and contain foreign language specialists, while other missions within CONUS, such as counterdrug operations, can have an advanced party weighted with operational personnel. Whichever the commander chooses, the advanced party must receive guidance and focus from the commander prior to deployment. The advance party must also keep the commander informed as to their actions and the current situation in the AOs.

    e. Split-Based Operations. The cargo and utility commander will often deploy on SASO with a portion of their unit and into a theater that has an immature logistics base. Often, logistics operations will be conducted in theater and from the unit's home station. This is termed split-based operations. The cargo and utility commander who deploys on an operation that is conducting split-based operations must consider the type of support that must be provided from home station. The commander must pay special attention to communications between the theater of operations and the home station and to the transportation means available to provide a timely flow of logistics to the deployed unit.

    f. Deployment. SASO deployments deserve special consideration because many times the aviation battalion, or elements of the battalion, will deploy alone and not with their parent organization. The commander must ensure that the deploying units are fully supported during the preparation and execution phases of the deployment. Special emphasis for deployment should be placed on the following areas:

      (1) Early involvement of movement control personnel. Commanders must integrate early with the organizations providing movement control. Early coordination will ensure that that rail and ship operations are conducted smoothly.

      (2) Packing lists. Units need to identify a packing list and stick by it. Shipping containers will be based upon the packing lists submitted by the units. Careful attention needs to be placed on developing load plans that make the best use of the space available in the containers provided.

      (3) Liaison. SASO often require units to do missions for which they are not trained. Commanders must select LNOs and deploy them early to critical locations to provide the commander with information and to assist the unit in conducting a smooth deployment. Critical locations requiring LNOs include departure airfields, sea ports, rail heads, and higher headquarters.

      (4) Movement personnel. All units, regardless of their home station location, may deploy to another theater to conduct SASO. Self-deployment is not always possible, and units may require ships or strategic aircraft to move their assets. All units should have qualified load planners and personnel trained to certify hazardous cargo for movement.

      (5) Loading teams. Cargo and utility unit commanders must anticipate the need for teams to load equipment on to ships or planes. They must designate them early and properly train them prior to mission execution.

    g. Logistics. During SASO, logistics is a critical element. The logistics base may be well developed or may be nonexistent. Commanders must determine the logistics available to support the mission. The priority for logistics in SASO goes to class III, class V, class IX, and class I.

      (1) Class III (petroleum, oil, and lubricants). Host nation POL may or may not be available to supporting aircraft. Advanced party operations must include determining availability of refuel in theater. The advanced party may have to establish contracts with host nation fuelers to provide fuel for aviation tankers or provide fuel from host nation sources. If fuel is not available in theater, the commander must coordinate with the higher headquarters for fuel resupply.

      (2) Class V (ammunition). Commanders must consider how their aircraft will get ammunition for the M60D door guns. Additionally, ammunition may be required for force protection within the aviation AA. Commanders and staffs must plan for and request adequate class V. Class V requirements will be based on an analysis of the threat. Advanced parties should integrate with the higher headquarters to establish class V accounts and to determine the procedures for class V requisition and resupply.

      (3) Class IX (repair parts). Class IX accounts must be established with the higher headquarters as soon as possible. The advanced party should make all necessary arrangements for class IX parts ordering before the unit arrives. For a SASO without an established system for ordering class IX parts, the unit should arrange for alternate methods of receiving repair parts.

      (4) Class I (food). Class I accounts are another critical logistics element that the advanced party must set up prior to the arrival of the unit. Coordination should be made with the higher headquarters for establishing class I contracts with host nation assets.

    h. Force Protection. The aviation commander must consider force protection as essential throughout the conduct of the SASO. External security assets must be requested if needed. Coordination for any external security force should be accomplished prior to deployment to the AOs. Commanders must make an assessment of their AA. Staff operations must consider the defense of the AA. Careful staff planning and coordination with higher headquarters will ensure that the soldiers are well protected.

    i. Rules of Engagement. ROE are designed to control the application of force. These rules stipulate under what conditions US soldiers can use force. The ROE will be prepared and issued at the theater, JTF, or national level. The aviation unit commander must clearly understand the ROE and ensure that all the soldiers in the unit understand it also. All personnel should be briefed on the current ROE in effect prior to executing a mission.

    j. Host Nation Considerations. Civil and military laws, airspace procedures, radio frequency usage, ground convoy clearances, flight restrictions, local customs, and host nation contracting are all factors the commander must consider prior to executing SASO in another country. The aviation commander must adapt to local procedures to accomplish his mission.

    k. Landing Zones. Adequate LZs may not be available for the conduct of SASO missions. This is especially critical in urbanized terrain. The aviation staff must use available resources (local population, imagery, photos, higher intelligence sources) as well as their own area analysis (map reconnaissance, actual reconnaissance) to determine the location, adequacy, and capabilities of potential LZs in the SASO area.

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